Recent punk shows at Alex’s Bar have genuinely felt like events rather than simple gigs. A great example was the Avengers/Alice Bag/Alley Cats show — history lessons in the live environment, and priceless. On Saturday evening, a similarly excellent bill was put together, four bands that would all be worth seeing by themselves.
That said, for reasons we couldn’t control, we missed opening band The Last. We’ll catch them next time — the L.A. power-pop band formed in the ’70s and have a deep history as well as a killer discography. The L.A. Explosion album, released on Bomp! in ’79, is particularly excellent, and important.
So for us the night began with The Horseheads. Those with a general knowledge of L.A. punk will be familiar with the name Tex & the Horseheads, led by the inimitable Texacala Jones. She loves in Austin now, so it’s left to two other members, Mike Martt and Gregory (Smog) Boaz, to keep the flame burning. Without Jones, yeah, there’s a huge presence missing. But to be fair, these guys had a big hand in writing the Horseheads material, they have every right to play it, and they’re doing a great job. Wild cowpunk anthems are slightly twisted into drunken outlaw tunes, but it works.
It always feels like Minutemen/Firehose/Stooges man Mike Watt has about 80 bands on the go, but that’s just testament to the fact that he likes to keep busy. This time, he’s playing with his Missingmen (he can often be seen out with his Secondmen) but, whoever is flanking him, Watt always delivers. His own gloriously schizophrenic, technically awe-inspiring material is great enough, but covers of Velvet Underground’s “Sister Ray” and, fittingly, The Stooges’ “Funhouse” are the cherries on the cake.
That just leaves The Dils, still surfing the wave of their triumphant return, to mop things up. As Watt reminds us, with Tony Kinman leaving this mortal coil last year (and Zippy Pinhead, who played drums with the band for a short while, dying this month), Tony’s brother Chip Kinman is the “last remaining Dil.” Chip re-formed the band this year with his stepson Giuliano Scarfo on drums and Brian Melendez on bass, and this sold-out Long Beach show proves that people still want to hear these songs.
The two young musicians certainly add a blast of energy to the old material but, to be fair, Kinman looks and sounds great in 2019. The set blasted by way too fast, “I Hate the Rich” to “Red Rockers,” and then the sound seemed to be cut as they returned for an encore. No matter — we’re left wanting more, which is exactly the way it should be. Long live The Dils.